I can remember attending a creative thinking workshop once. Not only did it not get my creative juices flowing, but the few I had, shrivelled up and died!
It was presented and run in traditional, death by powerpoint; slides without images or colour, just bullet points of what was being said. No interaction, no audience participation, no energising fun session. It definitely didn’t do what it said on the tin. Very much, “Do as I say, rather than do as I do.”
Conversely I know someone who used to get new recruits at induction standing on chairs supported by colleagues. Demonstrating things she wanted from them going forward - ‘seeing things from a different angle’ and ‘team work’. Her session was often followed by health and safety; she always hoped the presenters didn’t turn up early and catch her!
What you do and how you behave will always either reinforce or contradict what you say. As a leader, manager, business owner you’re always ‘in uniform’ as it were. I don’t mean you have to be starchy but you need to be aware that your actions and words can have consequences, such is your influence. In my book, the amount of influence we have, just by personal example alone, is often under-estimated, after all, ‘it’s only me’.
Now back to the creative thinking workshop you may be thinking well, the fallout from that wouldn’t be great. The worst consequence may be the waste of money and people no further forward, but there can be far reaching consequences of a mere throw-away remark….
If you’re my age you’ll remember the story of successful high street jeweller Gerald Ratner. For those who don’t, he made a throw away remark about one of his products being ‘total crap’ and his business fell off the edge of a cliff.
Our team will pick up on how we behave:
all send a clear message to our team that this is acceptable and sets the tone for our business.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
It’s important that we understand and model the behaviours that we want to see in our team, and cut out those we don’t, because the way we behave will influence the way our team behaves.
Our values must come first, and demonstrating those values everyday will build our culture. More of that next week.
Do one thing: think back over the last week, have your words and actions had a positive impact on your team?
Thanks for reading.
As featured here in HRD Connect
2020 will be a big year for new beginnings. How can leaders ensure their best people stay put?
A new decade can be a catalyst to kick-start your own journey to accomplish your life goals.
Members of your team who dream to be somewhere else and start their own business, move to the seaside or whatever they aspire to may well be more likely to up sticks this year, however those that do were never fully invested in your business anyway.
So, my question to you is, is the culture of your business a nurturing and positive culture, or is it stagnant and negative?
Do your team have a clear career progression plan, or do they drift along in the day-to-day seemingly ‘stuck’ in their job for life or until they leave? If it’s the later then worrying about the high turnover of your workforce increasing dramatically this year may be valid. If you have a low staff turnover and a happy team, you’re probably on the right track in terms of your business culture.
The real question here is: How do you improve your business culture?
If you want a culture of ownership and accountability, a positive and engaged workforce and lower staff turnover, ask yourself:
Hiring the right people
The ‘right’ people are those who share your values; who get what you are trying to achieve with your business; who see your vision and are inspired by it.
It’s important to immerse every new team member in your culture from day one. Tell them stories that demonstrate how people take ownership in your business, and how you empower and encourage everyone to make decisions and be accountable.
Show what your culture is through your actions: arriving on time, everyone greeting the new starter warmly, explaining your ‘rules of the game’ to them, and demonstrating your personal values through everything you say and do.
Engaging your people
A strong business culture relies on the whole team buying into it. If you’ve taken your time in hiring the right people you will have no problem in engaging them in your vision and goals for the business, and in your culture.
You have the right people, so involve them in finding solutions to problems, planning for the future, setting their own targets. If your current team is far from engaged, call a meeting and share your vision, help them to understand what they’re a part of and why they’re each so important. This isn’t an overnight thing, so keep sharing wins and positivity. Say thank you.
Develop simple, logical and repeatable systems, and train your team to follow them.
Help them to understand why consistency is so important. Make sure that they understand not only what is expected of them, but the high standard you expect them to perform to. Give them all of the information they need to do the job on their own, and then get out of their way and let them get on with it!
Monitoring and measuring performance
Engaging with great people is easy. But on occasion, you will get your hiring all wrong, and you’ll take on someone who just doesn’t fit your culture, your values or the ethos of your business and they will have to go. It may be that 2020 will be the catalyst for this anyway.
It’s always good to give people a second chance, and I’m personally very big on forgiveness, but when a second chance has been wasted, make sure that you have the performance management system in place to manage them out of the business if needs be.
The negative impact of someone who doesn’t fit is simply too great and, in a growing business with a small team, you simply can’t afford the consequences for your customers, your team and ultimately lost revenue and profit.
Have quarterly performance reviews, but at your annual performance review, build the following questions in:
With the members of your team who are the right fit and who are invested in your business and who can see themselves progressing, their answers to these questions will be detailed and show a will to progress up the ladder. They will ask for things from you.
You will also have your loyal ‘steady stayers’ who love their role and don’t wish to progress. This is ok too of course, some people aren’t naturally ambitious. However, still try to work out some sort of target and reward system for these team members and make them feel part of the journey.
Communicate Communicate Communicate
While your business is still growing, you are your business, you are the leader, and people will want to contact you personally – both your customers and the individuals in your team.
How you handle this will say a great deal about you and your business culture.
Communication is vital in any relationship. Your business simply can’t do without open and honest communication through channels that are clear and easy to use. If you want to build a culture of ownership and accountability it’s absolutely essential.
‘Do this and your people will fly!’
Feedback! The key to improving performance. And yet so many people feel awkward about giving it or shy away from it altogether. So why do people find it so difficult? Perhaps you’re one of them. You may be the person who makes a joke of everything or someone who says, ‘Well, they know what I think from my body language.’
We all approach feedback differently. To those of us who have a British upbringing, feedback can often be seen as awkward, negative & confrontational. We see giving feedback as daunting. For me, the only reason to give feedback is to inspire improved performance. ‘Inspire’ is the key word. You want people to be walking away thinking, ‘I know how I’m going to do it better next time now,’ and wanting to do just that.
So how do we deliver that? Let’s take a look at ways of giving feedback which will remove the angst. There are two methods. There’s informal feedback – the ongoing, day to day feedback, and then there is the formal performance management to back that up.
Find someone doing something good everyday!
Ongoing, day to day, when someone in your team is doing really well, you want to showcase and highlight that to the rest of the team. Have a philosophy of ‘trying to acknowledge someone doing something good, each day.’ Publicly acknowledge the event and explain why you’re pleased – perhaps it positively impacts a customer or the rest of the team and so forth. It’s all about positive reinforcement – you want more of this.
Spot learning opportunities everyday!
Don’t just walk past the bad stuff. Don’t allow it to happen without addressing it – nip it in the bud. Inaction does nothing to sort the problem and worse still, erodes the trust and respect of the other team members if they think you’ve let it slide. This, if you like, is ‘just in time’ coaching where you again, on a daily basis, seek out learning opportunities. In these circumstances just have a quiet word, there is no need for public humiliation. This time ask the person ‘why’,‘Why is this not acceptable?’ Give them the opportunity to work it out for themselves and see the effects of their behaviour. ‘When you said that to John, how do you think it made him feel?’ If they can work it out for themselves they will take it onboard more than if you simply lecture them. Make it a genuine learning experience.
The EEC Model
Here at MPL we talk about the EEC model:
What’s caused me to comment on the way you’re working? Maybe the way you answer the phone, maybe the way you spoke to a client, maybe the way you completed a piece of work. What is the reason I’m talking to you?
What effect has it had on me, on the client, on the business, the team? Is it a good effect or not so good? Did you forget to smile when you answered the phone, making your voice sound sombre and moody? Did you complete this piece of work, but it wasn’t absolutely spot on in terms of accuracy? Did you get a great customer review?
and then either Continue
‘Thanks so much. You did a great job. Loved the way you’ve got absolutely every detail correct, keep going with that. Customer x was thrilled with that.’ Do more; continue.
When it’s something that you want to correct, then you’re talking about how you want somebody to change their performance. What can they do differently? What do they need to do to be up to standard? Give people the chance to get things right next time.
When it comes to formal feedback, remember that nothing should ever be a surprise. All of the informal feedback that you’ve given feeds into your formal, sit down performance review. We recommend that you do formal performance reviews at the end of each quarter. That you make it routine. It’s a chance to sit down with your team member to talk to them about the great things they’re doing, and to inspire them to do even better.
Many people shy away from that whole idea of sitting down with each team member. Either that, or they only sit down with them when something bad has happened and they want to tell them off. No wonder their team members dread the call, it’s like when I was little, our dogs hated the car because the only time they got in it was to go to the vets! When you make delivering feedback routine, it becomes a more positive interaction between you and your team. It becomes a conversation, a discussion. ‘How can I do this better? How can I improve? I really want to improve, how can I do it?’
Encourage your people to keep their own development journals
This will become a useful tool for development because it will help to highlight where each team member would like to go, how they want to improve, and what they need from you in order to achieve this.
Encourage them to jot down the things they did really well, their ‘Proud Page’.
To note when things didn’t go to plan; what were their learning points. If they had some training or coaching, what three things would they do differently next time as a result, their ‘Learning Page’.
Their ‘Aspirations Page’; what challenges would they like, what training/development would help them get there.
The formal appraisal should be their story; you just need to listen. Then ask these question:
That is how to build trust.
People are more likely to ask for support if you’ve made this whole performance management system part of ‘the way we do things around here’. The way we do things round here is we give honest and open feedback, whether something is good, or needs to be improved. We are always honest and open; though honest doesn’t mean brutal! Make that part of your culture, and you have a real picture of continuous improvement. Everybody always looking to do that little bit better to make that marginal gain.
Do this and your people will fly. Do this and your business will fly.
Do two things:
Thanks for reading
Photography credit: Owen Kemp on Unsplash
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!’
Geoff had been with Martin from the start, and had worked hard to help him grow the business. As a result, he’d been promoted to manager, reward for all his efforts. Well, financially he was so much better off, great! But the day-to-day reality felt more like a punishment.
Plucked from a job that he excelled in, and where he felt completely comfortable, even when the pressure was on, he now found himself managing a team of fifteen, actually no, not even a team, a group of people who came together every day to work under the same roof. Their work standards certainly didn’t match his; ‘sloppy’ and ‘slow’ were the two words that summed them up for him.
When I met him he was exhausted, frustrated and disbelieving that this group of people would ever do their job right without him watching over them, let alone take ownership. He was checking every piece of work that went out to clients, working longer and longer hours to do so, and the team, knowing their work would always be checked by him, didn’t bother to check it themselves. Why bother if he didn’t trust them?
Together we set to work on reviewing the customer journey with the team, I introduced them to the concept of simple, logical, repeatable, and we streamlined their flow of work, removing all of the hoops that they and their clients had been jumping through. We developed How-To guides for the most routine tasks, to achieve consistency and raise the basic standards, and we introduced regular meetings to improve communication, daily fifteen-minute huddles to set the expectations for the day, weekly meetings to review what had been achieved and set priorities for the coming week. Once a month I got them to meet as a full team, and to have one of the team do a twenty-minute presentation on something that would be of interest and/or benefit to the whole team. After that meeting, I encouraged them to go out for a team drink, or maybe even a meal, to build team spirit.
With Geoff, I focused first on his mindset, and the notion he had that everyone but him was lazy, useless and not to be trusted. I asked him to focus on training and feedback; to show individuals exactly what he wanted, by using How-Tos, and then to let them get on and do their job, without his interference. I encouraged him to trust that if he trained his people properly, and gave them feedback that encouraged them to improve, then they would, and that mistakes were not the end of the world, but a learning opportunity.
Geoff wasn’t convinced at first, but to his credit, he did listen, and he did change both his mindset and his actions. The daily, weekly and monthly meetings became the norm, and as the team began to blossom, I watched Geoff relax into his role as their manager. Twelve months later, with three further managers grown from the team, Geoff was promoted to Director within the business! Proud or what?
When I started working with Amit, it was clear that he had a problem with the team. For a start they didn’t work as a team, and they were all way too focused on the clock; never a good sign. Turnover was high too; for a business that was five years old, 90% of the people that I met had been there for less than twelve months.
There was one employee though who was driving Amit mad; always turning up late, questioning every decision, doing sloppy work; Amit was at his wits’ end and wanted to know what I would do about it, in his place.
‘Well, tell me one thing first’, I said, ‘Do her values match yours?’
‘Good god, no!’ was the reply, ‘But she had an excellent CV’.
That is so often the problem, and one that you’ll have difficulty overcoming. Hiring to a CV, focusing on the experience that an individual has had, rather than their values, their attitude, their fit for you, and your team, is a big, and a very common mistake.
So, Amit sat her down and had a conversation about his vision and his values, and what he was looking for in the people he worked with. He inspired the woman in question with his passion and drive, and she is now a real advocate of the business and a highly valued member of his team.
Focus on values; find those whose values match yours, you can always train for skill.
Do one thing: have you shared your vision and values with your team? If not, it’s never too late to start or reinforce.
Thanks for reading.
‘Recent research found that a huge 71% of businesses don’t train their new managers effectively, if at all…’
One of the biggest challenges you face as a successful small business owner is managing your growing team.
So, to make your life easier, what do you do? You pluck your very best person from the comfort of a job they excel at, and promote them to the lofty heights of management.
Fabulous! Reward for their great performance, and a signal to the rest of the team that there is potential for progression within your business.
But then what happens?
Reality sinks in, and without any training or coaching your highly-motivated new manager begins to flounder. The team begin to lose confidence and the mutterings start around the coffee jar. Your new manager goes from loving their job to dreading coming to work.
It’s a sad truth that managers are less likely to receive training than any other type of employee.
Recent research found that a huge 71% of businesses don’t train their new managers effectively, if at all; managers who have responsibility for developing team members, measuring performance, maybe controlling a budget and other resources to deliver results for the business. Scarily that means that a hefty percentage of businesses are being run by managers simply flying by the seat of their pants.
I’m sure the natural leaders and gifted organisers will thrive on the challenge, but what about the rest?
Those who are ‘consciously incompetent’ have a chance of improving – they’ll recognise their shortcomings and do what they need to, to develop the skills they lack.
The dangerous ones are the ‘unconsciously incompetent’ – those who think they know what they’re doing and plough on regardless: a downward spiral of the ignorant leading the ignorant. The damage they can do to your team, and your business is immeasurable.
Give your managers a chance to be the second line you need them to be. Focus on their training and continuous development, and they will do the same for your team.
(If you want help with this, check out our Manager’s Development Programme – created to develop the second line managers of people just like you).
One final word on management training. Some highly productive and talented people are not suited to management, or simply don’t want to be managers, so be prepared to build a development plan for them that isn’t a management ladder.
Training is an investment, and a big one at that, no question. But the return it delivers both to your bottom line and to your time freedom, makes it worth every penny and every minute it takes.
Do one thing: have a look at your training plan; how much of it involves management development?
Good luck and thanks for reading :)
I read a great quote by Clare Balding the other day about Pep Guardiola. She wrote, “He (Pep) is the manager not just of a team of players but also of backroom staff whom he always values, praises and thanks. He is a leader who makes them all believe the impossible is possible.”
It just got me thinking about how bosses and managers treat their ‘backroom’ team. One of my pet hates over the years is hearing a manager giving someone a task and apologise for it. How does that person then feel? How can they take pride in their job and feel any sort of fulfilment? I’ve seen it in managers who want to be liked or are worried about a possible reaction, “I’m really sorry to have to ask you to do this…’’
Now I’m not suggesting they do a Tarzan swing and ‘big-up’ a simple or repetitive job but rather to explain to people how their role fits in to the bigger picture. You may think cleaning toilets isn’t much of a job. Okay now imagine you work in an office and they’re not cleaned! I know many people who judge an eatery not just by its food and service but also by its toilets. Have you ever come back from the loo and raved about it or returned to your table vowing never to return to the restaurant?
We had a US vice president at McDonald’s who would always make the toilets his first port of call when checking out a restaurant. Not for a call of nature but to make sure they were so clean that he could eat his burger off the toilet floor. (I wonder if he ever did?)
People want to feel that they belong, that they’re valued, that they are part of the business and that they make a difference to its success. I heard a story recently where a school had called a meeting about its future but had just invited teachers to it. Not the facilities people or the grounds team, those people without whom the teaching couldn’t happen. How to quickly make people feel they don’t count!
On the other hand, I know someone who made a point of working late a few times a week to catch the cleaners coming in so she could learn their names, thank them in person and explain the difference they made to the working environment and the business’s success. Yes, these people were employed by an Agency, but she felt they were still part of the team. She would also insist on clear desks and work areas every night explaining that it made it easier for the cleaners and to get her team members to appreciate their work.
An old boss of mine used to love telling the tale of the man he used to pass regularly on his way to work pushing his dustcart round London streets. He was so impressed that this guy was always smiling, acknowledging people as he passed. His cart was decorated and the pride he took in his work oozed from his pores. Imagine if the person giving him that task had been apologetic rather than explaining that the first impression people get of a city is its clean streets.
So going back to Guardiola, I imagine that when he has a team meeting which is about the future, rather than next week’s tactics, he invites the whole team. And what is so great about it is that the extremes in that team would be hard to replicate in most SME’s; famous multi-millionaires and the person who cuts the grass being inspired by the boss about the future of the club.
Do one thing: make time to ask your team members individually how they think their role impacts the business. If they don’t know, then there’s your chance.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
’You can dream, create, draw and come up with the best ideas in the world, but you need people to help you turn your dreams into reality.’
As business owners, we rightly focus a heck of a lot of attention on our external customers and what we can do to give them a great experience. We can often forget that our people are our customers too, and without them, we can’t provide a great service, or grow a successful business.
We want our team to be full of ‘go-to’ people, leaders and high performers. We want them to support us in our vision, to be loyal to the business, to work hard for us; but what do they want in return?
If you had to choose one thing that has the most positive impact on your team what would it be? ‘Communication?’ ‘Involvement?’ ‘Trust?’ What would you be looking for if you were in their shoes?
Below is a list of the top 20 answers to the question, ‘What makes you feel valued at work?’
Take 5 minutes now to think about how your team would rate your ‘delivery’ in each of these areas, and rate yourself from 1-5 (1=unsatisfactory, 2=needs improvement, 3=satisfactory, 4=good, 5=excellent)
How did you do?
Are there a few there that might get rated ‘needs improvement’ or ‘unsatisfactory’? How would you say that affects your people’s performance or your reputation as an employer?
If you’re unhappy with the results, there is no better time to act than now, because as Walt Disney said,
‘You can dream, create, draw and come up with the best ideas in the world, but you need people to help you turn your dreams into reality.’
Value your people, turn YOUR dreams into reality.
Do one thing: We've created a questionnaire for your team members ready to use and a ‘How to' guide of how to use it (please download below).
If you do use it we'd welcome any feedback about how it went and any improvements we can make.
If you feel on a roll our Business Efficiency Test will give you further insight into how each of the key systems in your business is operating - including your customer experience system - and will give you strategies for improving them in a pdf report. Take the test now, to see how you measure up.
As a business owner you know that a high-performing team is essential for a successful business. But how do you start building a team from the group of individuals who currently work for you with all of their different personalities and egos? Any of these sound familiar?
Of course we’re all different - we all have different strengths and different experience, so what can you do, as the leader, to get all of these people to gel as a team?
Well, you can start by viewing individual personality traits in a positive way, and playing to strengths:
But if you’re serious about building a High Performing Team, then here are my top 10 tips:
‘The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.’ - Phil Jackson
Do one thing: Take a close look at your team, and use our checklist to see how you fare.
And if you or a manager in your business could use some help then check out our MPL ‘Managers' Development Programme.’ Our structured 6-month online programme is aimed at developing the mindset and the skill set of business owners and their managers.
Details and testimonials here:
Thanks for reading.
I want to share an interesting conversation I had recently with a control freak.
Business Owners come to us for help to escape the day-to-day operation of their business, but the truth is that so many find it hard to let go of their role, even the small tasks.
Some believe that they are the only ones that can do a certain task to their exacting standards, and we come across this so often that a huge part of our work is changing the mindset of the business owner to let them know that they can trust their team with the right systems in place. They can take a step back to work on growing their business, while it runs smoothly without them, or with only a little input from them.
This particular ‘control freak’ (and I use that phrase because I can - I was one too!) was telling me how he hates to delegate - doesn't trust his employees to do anything without some sort of supervision, because they cock things up, make mistakes, take longer to do the job than he would.
"I check EVERYTHING' he said, 'I don't want my customers to have anything but a perfect service'.
It's the perfect excuse for the control freak - “I’m not doing it for me, I'm doing it for my customers.”
Drives me nuts.
Here's the thing, for those of you who recognise that you may be borderline, if not full-blown freaks, you’re keeping yourself stuck in that rut we talked about recently.
Just like the bindweed in your garden - you know the one with the pretty flower that pretends its trying to make your garden look lovely, while its tentacles set about destroying it? You too are strangling the growth of your people and your business.
You've forgotten that someone let you make mistakes when you were learning, someone gave you room to grow and develop, someone recognised that mistakes are how we all learn. You've forgotten that all of the successful people you look up to have built their success on a bucketload of failures, and much bigger failures and mistakes than any of your people might make if you gave them their head.
You want to limit mistakes? Have systems. Set standards. Give your people proper training in how to use your systems to achieve those standards. Manage their performance. Reward good performance and re-train when it's not so good.
People want to learn and develop, they want to grow - it's much more of a motivator than money. Give them ownership of their job, help them to feel like they belong to something, that you're relying on them to help you build something that you can all be proud of.
I saw this quote on Facebook, and it is oh so true - 'A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust one another.'
Trust your people and build a high performing team, that runs your high performing business.
Get control of your freak. Pull out the bindweed that's stifling your business.
Do one thing: Want to see where you’re at right now? Complete our Systems Scorecard to see where you’re at, right now, in your business.
I’ve always loved team sports, whether I’m playing them or watching them. Watching them always incurs listening to the pundits and of course with the football season underway we’re awash with analysis. I have to admit that I do enjoy it; I love the insight and the banter. Sometimes, worryingly, I find myself joining in, particularly when I disagree. Anyway, moving swiftly on!
Something that resonated with me recently was the pundits’ view that a winning team needs a strong spine. The idea is that if you have a strong spine from goalkeeper, through centre back, centre midfield and up to your centre forward it will:
And it struck me that in business that strong spine is your process. Having a strong spine of simple, logical, repeatable systems and procedures that everyone in your team follows, allows the whole team to be creative, to stamp their personality on your operation, within a structure. It means that every team member knows what to do when problems arise, they trust in the system. It gives you that agility too to take advantage of sudden opportunities.
It’s about being able to do things on auto pilot because you know the system; you’ve been drilled in it, you know that your team mates know it too, so you trust that they will be where they should be when you need them. Great systems can give great results even when you haven’t got the top superstars.
Of course who you have in each position in your business is still important. You want to recruit to your Vision and Values, team players, people passionate about the customer experience. But it’s the systems that run your business, your people who run the systems. That’s how it should be in business, your systems so well entrenched that when you lose someone to holiday, sickness, maternity leave, your well-oiled machine just keeps on moving forward.
If you’re not into football analogies then think about what Pilates or Yoga does for your body. It gives you a strong core which gives you strength, balance and agility. Continuing to develop great systems in your business is like your weekly Pilates class. Both need you to commit the time and money to their development. The rewards are worth every second of the time you put in.
Do One Thing: Download this free chapter (below) from Marianne’s Amazon bestseller, ‘Simple Logical Repeatable’ to discover more.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)